Singapore tops Google+ APAC users

Dominance of Google search engine key to user growth in city-state, new report states, but some users confess irregular visits to new social network due to lack of updates.

Key markets in Asia Pacific have taken positively to Google+, with users in Singapore accounting for the largest share of visits to the new social networking platform, according to new data from Experian Hitwise.

Statistics from the eight-week study also showed that Singapore is the only country in the region with "sustained continued growth in visits after the beta launch", according to figures released Friday.

It said the city-state's usage of Google+ ranked No. 6 in the global Social Networking and Forums category, with a visit share of 1.2 percent at its peak for the week ending Aug. 27. The research firm attributed local popularity of Google's new social network to its search engine dominance in the country.

In Singapore, about 34.5 percent of upstream traffic to Google+ originated from the localized version of Google's search engine.

India came in second in Asia, but the country's figures lagged far behind Singapore's. Indian netizens accounted for only 0.2 percent of worldwide visits during the final week of the study, Experian Hitwise said. After the beta launch of Google+ on Jul. 9, it shot up to its peak of 0.4 percent users a week later and remained so for two weeks. Its popularity subsequently declined.

At its peak, India was in 14th place for Google+ traffic.

Social media savvy Hong Kong bucked the trend, averaging only 0.074 percent visit share throughout the entire eight weeks. It ranked 90th in the global usage of Google's new social network.

The research firm noted that the strong presence of Chinese social networking sites in the market could have impacted Google+ visits. Statistics showed that 60 percent of users there visit Facebook and YouTube, while the remaining 40 percent frequent Chinese forums and microblogging sites such as Discuss and Weibo.

The other two Asia-Pacific markets covered--Australia and New Zealand--fared slightly better, peaking at 58th and 84th  spots, respectively, during the period of assessment.

Experian Hitwise said Google's new social network "sees key reliance" on other properties such as its search engines and Gmail for referral and direction.

ZDNet Asia's sister site CNET reported Thursday that Google+ users are on the fall after "surging for the first couple of weeks in July".

Quoting a study, also by Experian Hitwise, it said that Google+ users have dropped from a peak of 1.8 million in mid-July to 1.16 million last week. This figure corresponds with earlier numbers from ComScore, which said in a press release on Jul. 27 that traffic to the new social networking site had begun to slow, with user figures dropping 3 percent between the third and fourth week of July.

The average time spent on the site has also been fluctuating, Experian Hitwise said.

As of early August, Google+ is said to have at least 25 million users globally.

Hype dying down
Singapore users told ZDNet Asia that they were excited to jump on the bandwagon during the beta launch of Google+, with many friends clamoring for "invites". However, due to the limited activity within the "circles", some are no longer visiting the site regularly.

Nicole Nilar-Aye, a CRM (customer relationship management) manager, said she rarely uses it "as only one friend is active".

Jonas Wong, an active social media user, expressed the same sentiment. He explained that the lack of updates in his circles made no sense for him to visit Google+ regularly.

"I do have a lot of friends and acquaintances in different circles, but since no one is updating anything, the hype has died down," he shared.

"But it is still in its infant stages, the potential is huge, so I hope Google can continue to push out more features to keep the platform buzzing and eventually build something that can give Facebook a run for its money."


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